After London and Leeds the Stag and Dagger festival rolled into Glasgow for the final day of this 3 day and 3 city festival. This is the second such event in Glasgow in a month after Hinterland a few weeks back and the appetite for such festivals is obvious with a huge line up Sauchiehall Street to collect tickets. Tonight’s lineup is packed with the best local bands and some rising stars from farther afield. Fortunately with a bit of careful planning and good scheduling on behalf of PCL there is no need to hike round the city.
First stop, NME Stage at the Captain’s Rest. Due to a change in set times at said venue the night starts with slight disappointment as I arrive as local band Over the Wall are on their last song, their mix of electronic drums, keyboards and guitar has rightly attracted a bumper crowd despite it being early in the day. We Were Promised Jetpacks are in attendance, obviously fans, Over The Wall will support them at their album launch on June 15th in King Tuts, we’ll be there to.
Next up in the same venue is another exciting Glasgow band, The French Wives, the venue is rammed and the Wives seem surprised, they shouldn’t be. Since I reviewed them 8 days ago, leave little new to report. Stuart’s had a haircut, they still sadly don’t count Sarcosy’s missus or that one out of the Clio ad among their number, and they’re still undeniably brilliant. Deliberately detaching myself from what I generally look for in their performance, I notice drummer Jonny’s exemplary bass pedal work and Stuart’s superb lyrics. The lyrics really speak as a snapshot for the city which shaped him. Each song stands as an image as iconic as the Clyde tower, The University of Glasgow or the Kelvingrove Art Museum, they speak for the city, almost as well as Alex Kapranos did on Franz Ferdinand’s debut.
No sooner had the French Wives stellar crescendo died down and it’s time to hot foot it to the ABC for Frightened Rabbit, the flip side of the scheduling change, the boys are performing a special two-piece brothers set. The ABC is surprisingly barren upon arrival but quickly picks up during the first two tunes, from first album ‘Sing The Greys’ as Scott announces:
“So, this is what we sounded like before anybody liked us”, a flippant crowd member replies
“no one likes you now.” This is clearly untrue, the crowd swells and becomes more receptive as more familiar tunes from ‘Midnight Organ Fight’ are rolled out from ‘Fast Blood’ to ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ and ‘Modern Leper’ to the delight of the crowd, inspiring mass sing-a-longs among all present. Grant looks possessed from behind the kit and the entire set, though wrought with technical problems, has a rawer edge and evokes more aggression than the more rounded sound when performing as a four piece.
There is barely time to catch breath before the second part of the Fatcat double header, The Twilight Sad, take to the stage. Several members of the band are sporting a new look since last I saw them, guitarist Andy guitarist has taken a bic to his hair and combines that with a beard, while bassist Craig wears a positively terrifying all encompassing head mask. Thankfully, this is all that’s changed; the set opens with recently leaked new song ‘Reflection in the Television’ it’s the first new song played in a set peppered with new’uns. These songs offer an optimistic slant regarding the imminent release of second studio album, ‘Forget The Night Ahead’, due in September. The set doesn’t forget how good their debut, ‘Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’, was though playing through several old favourites such as I’m taking the train home, ‘Walking for Two Hours’ and the powerful ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy’. They are still impeccable anthems and despite an overly grandiose finale, which irked some onlookers, but overall it was a real statement of intent.
With highly rated local bands Paper Planes and Findo Gask playing down the street and Cursive and Black Lips a little further there was some temptation to attempt a mad dash. In the end the Art School’s interesting lineup and close proximity to the ABC made for a far less stressful night. First up in the big room are Austin’s White Denim, the packed crowd know they are in for a treat when they blast into ‘Mess Your Hair Up’ from their first record ‘Workout Holiday’ before there comes a preview of songs from the soon to be released follow up ‘Fits’. The ferocious drive of the Texan trio’s renowned live shows with songs merging into each other gives an exciting unpredictability to their set. If ‘Fits’ carries on the momentum of their debut they could be one of next year’s crossover successes
Next it was downstairs for hotly tipped Chew Lips, one of the stars for this years Camden Crawl, NME darlings and booked for Glastonbury. Combine that with front lady Tigs increasing deva status and you’d be crazy to bet against this lot, with songs like the infections ‘Solo’ and ‘Play Together’ why would you. The crowd was sparse but those in the know were there to see a band on the ascendancy.
A short trip up the stairs of the Art School back to the big room followed just in time to catch the opening of The Phantom Band. A year ago they were playing venues like the now defunct Beat Club, Sleazys and all the others on the way up. Now. Their debut ‘Checkmate Savage’ is out on at Chemikal Underground. Tipped by MOJO and Clash as /the/ band to listen to in 2009, it’s no surprise to see the room so busy.
Straight after downstairs in The Vic Bar are a group who are much lauded for their recorded material but with a rather ropey live reputation The Joy Formidable . I don’t know what the fuss is about, they played tight and oozed confidence, looks like the package is coming together and again you’ll be hearing more from this lot. The night ends in Nice N Sleazy’s dancing with White Denim, Paper Planes, The Phantom Band and The French Wives.
Words: Chris Panks
Pics: Bart Photography